Ebook Picks #1: Fantasy Fiction

April 13, 2011 § 8 Comments

Here’s my first round of picks from my independent/small press published ebook reading.

Confessions of a Gourmand by Tom Bruno

My rating: four stars

My review:

A fantasy novel told via a journey through cuisine? How unusual, and as it turns out, delicious. Van d’Allamitri’s passion for food pervades every page, and his powerful enthusiasm for new recipes and different cuisines is a considerable, and perhaps surprisingly believable driving force for the character and for the story.

Van’s life is an exciting one, even from a young age. A chef of considerable skill before the age of ten, Van’s gift for food delights all who come into contact with him. But it also gets him into trouble. This is a conversational narrative told from the personal point of view of Van himself – the autobiography of a precocious young chef. His tale is rambling but absorbing as he finds himself travelling a long way from home on a slave ship, wins his freedom and finally returns home in time to vanquish his mother’s enemies – all before the age of eighteen.

Van is a character well aware of the power and the danger of his appetites, but he navigates the dangerous career of a gourmand with cheerful skill. His journey brings him into contact with seductive gorgons (the queens of chocolate), loyal Cyclopeans, the ultra-civilised and destructive Varonians (reminiscent of the Roman Empire), Shaqaran bards whose music can melt the hardest of hearts, and a highly unusual immortal with a skill for a largely extinct cuisine. The journey is colourful and delightfully varied.

The story deserves five stars, but I am rating this as four because of the unfortunate number of typos in the text. I did find this occasionally interrupted my reading pleasure. Despite that, I roundly enjoyed this novel and I hope to see more of Van’s adventures become available in time.

Available from:

Amazon UK Current price: 72p

Amazon US Current price: $1.16

Author blog: http://confessionsofagourmand.blogspot.com/

Big Dragons Don’t Cry (A Dragon’s Guide to Destiny) by C. M. Barrett

My rating: four stars

My review:

The title of this book is mildly misleading. I expected a very humorous book, and it does have humour; but it also has a more serious & occasionally tense storyline. The book is constructed around three interwoven narratives. One is the story of Druid, a depressed water dragon left alone in the swamps without the company of any other dragons. The second is the story of a group of cats, principally Tara, destined to save the world – even though she is only a pint-sized kitten. The third is the human angle, following a feeling young woman and her artistic lover through the difficulties of a rather deranged, emotion-suppressing society.

The agenda of the story is clear: it makes some salient points about the destructiveness of human societies and the need to change our way of thinking. Some books could become leaden with such a heavy core message, and this one does come a little close to belabouring this point. However, it is written with a light, entertaining style and leavened with sufficient humour to avoid this.

The characters are engaging and largely loveable, and I liked the resolution to the story. I’d have liked to hear more about the final fate of characters such as Phileas – is he allowed to marry and have a normal life now? – and Serazina & Berto. However, perhaps this is coming up in a sequel!

This book also stands out from the crowd in the quality of the writing, editing and proofreading. I will recommend it to others & hope a sequel emerges fairly soon.

Available from:

Amazon UK Current price: £2.14

Amazon US Current price: $3.45

Smashwords Current price: $2.99

Author’s websitehttp://www.adragonsguide.com/

The Hawk and His Boy (Tormay Trilogy) by Christopher Bunn

My rating: four stars

My review:

This book opens the ‘Tormay Trilogy’, and it’s a great start. The quality of the writing is excellent – smooth, accessible, clear – and the book is very well edited, with few discernible errors. The story follows the adventures of a range of characters situated across the duchies of Tormay. Jute is a child-thief hired to steal a mysterious box; the completion of the job changes his life forever. Levoreth is niece to a duke, though her talent for conversing with animals suggests that she’s more than she seems. Nio is a scholarly wizard, powerful, driven and ruthless. Ronan, aka ‘the Knife’, is at the top of the thieves’ guild and justly feared. We also meet a small child who survives the inexplicable and brutal murder of the rest of her village, and the soldier-captain who takes her in.

As the above might suggest, there are a lot of different plot-threads going on here. They are all interlinked, but they come very thick and fast; to begin with I struggled a little to keep up. However, the coherence of the story improves as the book goes on and the links between the characters become steadily clearer. By the end I felt caught up in the tale, and I’m looking forward to finding out how it progresses in the second book.

Available from:

Amazon UK Current price: 70p

Amazon US Current price: $1.14

Smashwords Current price: $0.99

Author site: http://www.christopherbunn.com

Twitter ID: tunescribble

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§ 8 Responses to Ebook Picks #1: Fantasy Fiction

  • […] medieval, doesn’t it?) of Words About Words, kindly included The Hawk and His Boy in her list of fantasy fiction picks from independent and small press ebooks. The other books on the list sound intriguing, so I’m […]

  • Christopher says:

    Thanks for including The Hawk, Charlotte. Those other two books sound very intriguing. I’ll check ’em both out.

  • mjcache says:

    You Charlotte are quite a talented reviewer. I want to read all three books just because I love your reviewing style so much: pithy, clear and engaging.
    I’m looking forward to your book. How is it going?

    • Charlotte says:

      Why MJ, what a kind thing to say! Thanks. I’m quite new to reviewing but in that case I shall make a definite point of doing more of it (I always mean to).

      My book is going fairly well.. I think. (Says I as I sit here reading blogs and answering comments instead of writing). When I say it’s going ‘fairly well’ I mean I’m still putting words on the page. I’m resigned to the fact that I can’t really tell if it’s monumental crap until I reach the end and start reading it back. Won’t that be fun!

      I’ll be looking forward to when I get to review your book. Hope the editing hasn’t withered you down to the very core of your soul just yet.

  • I like that you are reviewing these independent e-books! It’s great to have someone’s take on it before going for the plunge. 🙂 Good idea!

    • Charlotte says:

      Hello Heather, thanks for the comment! I took up this idea because many of the book reviewing sites & blogs I visit have rather an attitude about self-published fiction. In that they refuse to have anything to do with it. I think that is both short-sighted and ragingly unfair, so I’m trying to help even out the balance. Thanks for reading my first collection of reviews!

  • aarongraham says:

    Thank you so much for the reviews! I’m going to make a note of “Big Dragons Don’t Cry.”

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